London Diary 53

God I miss you so much…

I dreamt about you last night. So many things I wanted to ask you, too many things. Why you had to leave so soon. Unfinished business here on this Earth, I can feel it. That’s why you keep coming back to me. In my wildest moments, I can still feel your protective caress on me, the guiding hand that was taken too soon.

Why did I call on God? Shouldn’t I be blaming Him?

I know it is nature. Each generation must succeed from the preceding one. But that does not make it any easier in my heart. Maybe it is why I keep looking for you, in any possible arena, especially in my dreams. For advice, for hope for love. Yes, that love is missing in my life. Now it is only a one way street from myself towards you. And what are you? Just a memory? For a few brief moments we interacted. You gave me life, nurtured me. You were my first teacher, protected me when the world was conspiring to destroy me. And then you left. Why, I still cannot understand.

But who else can I call on, if not God?

Maybe I am still a believer, deep down, no matter what I have seen and felt and done in this world. I have done many bad things. I pay for them, with my blood, with my own pain, everyday. How long I have left, who knows? Well, God knows, but any mortal person know nothing. Like why you came to me last night. Why do I dream about you, still, consistently, after all these years? What are you trying to tell me, beyond the grave? What we had is gone, can’t you accept that? Why do you keep haunting me?

God, why?

Maybe I cry to him, because, in some small way, I believe I am crying in your arms again. While you hold me, and tell me not to worry, that everything will be okay. Why I cannot share this gift of your, this calm through the storm, the serenity through the madness that is life. When my mind races, thinking of the impossible multitude of tasks that I must do to get through each waking day, why can’t I have the same, solid mindset that you had. Maybe, crying to you, via God helps me. Even though I feel that my cries are useless.

God, help me. Please?

I don’t believe. Really, when I call on God it is habit. I ask myself everyday if God ewas truly amongst us, why would he let us act like this. People think we are above animals, but we are below them. The animals live in harmony, but we always thrive when there is discord. I sound a bit like you. When you used to tell me about how the world works. Maybe your lessons rubbed off more than you imagined. Maybe, despite your absence, I still retain, through my thoughts, an essence of you. But certainly, my deeds, what I have done, what I am ding, and what I am about to do. Nothing is further removed from you, or God.

God, forgive me, for all my deeds.

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Film News for October 3rd

One words – Re-writes. Actually, that is a hyphenated word, but I stand by it.

Great Brytania is being shot in a weird and wonderful way. Due to funding pressures (it is all self-funded), the filming will be very stop-start. So in May I shot the first scenes, the external Polish scenes. Now in October, I will shoot the internal Polish Scenes. That will mean around 15% of the film is shot and in the can. Then, 2013 will become the year of hell, and the rest of the scenes, all in the UK will need to be shot. As and when funding, or in other words, spare cash, becomes available.

So recently, I have been rewriting the script again and again. To be honest, it is more of a correction, cleaning up the loose ends and making the script a bit tighter. Thankfully, the major re-write happened earlier this year, and it was fairly comprehensive. Now, my rewriting is really just tidying up around the edges.

And as the script is bilingual, it means that it needs time to get tanslated. Well, time to finish off the revisions…

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Gangam Style!

South Korea is cool.

Officially.

If you are one of the ever decreasing numbers of people on the planet that have truly not heard of this phenomenon, then here it is in all its glory:

Gangam Style by PSY

This is one of the few times that I really do appreciate the ‘Like’ button. And, I actualy wish there was a ‘Love’ button. I really think that PSY has to be one of the smartest people on the planet – pure genius, no irony at all, PSY is officially the Don! No wonder this Number 1 in the UK.

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September’sMovie of the Month – The Dark Knight Rises

I think it was pretty predictable what I was going to see at the IMAX. The Dark Knight Rises is simply brilliant. I am not going to review the film as so much has already been said on the net about it. However, I will say that it is…brilliant! Especially if you have seen the other two Batman films. If you have not seen it yet, take the time out and head to the cinema, the only place to view it is on the big screen.

Oh, and out of the Dark Knight Trilogy, my favourite are (in order): The Dark Knight Rises, Batman Begins and The Dark Knight.

Okay, this blog is going to change its publishing dates again. Tuesdays will still be movie day. But I will also switch to Thursday and Friday as ‘other bits’ days, as trying to blog on Saturdays is basically mission impossible. Let me see if I can keep up with this new blogging timetable. Life, as they say, is increasingly busy…

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Repertory Cinemas of London 5 – The BFI IMAX

My goodness me, has it really been three months since I have last been to the movies, here in London? Well, more disgustingly, has it been almost a month since I have last written on this blog? Tome, my dear people, is of the essence. All will be revealed, at some point in my oh-so-not really mysterious life. But time is of the essence and I really do not get enough time for myself, let alone anyone else. Sod it, enough moaning, shall we get to the cinema visit of the month.

To be honest, I had planned a visit to the IMAX in August, but I cocked this one up, and so my visit had to wait until free time popped up its mysterious little head in September.

A little history, both official and unofficial. Officially, the IMAX opened in 1999 as part of the regeneration of the South Bank in the 1990’s. Being Britain’s biggest cinema screen, and an impressive architectural structure, there is a lot of ‘raa-raa’ with regards to the IMAX. This article is perfect with regards to the gushing terms used to describe the IMAX’s construction.

However, there is also a glossed over history, that makes the IMAX probably one of London’s more contreversial entertainment spots. You see, before this was known as the IMAX roundabut, this was the Waterloo Bullring. And by the mid-1990’s, it was home to a lot of rough sleepers. This was cardboard city, anm uncomfortable eyesore to the millions of commuters who passed through nearby Waterloo each day. Today, there are still a few homeless people who crawl to sleep in the shadows of the IMAX theatre. Back then, money was chucked at the problem, the dwellers of the Bullring were given free housing. Quite a relief, considering the Houses of Parliament is only a mile away.

But, of course, money cannot be simply be chucked at people in vulnerable housing. The whole point is that many homeless people are also not in a good place emotionally, otherwise they would not have ended up sleeping rough. We know that better today, but in the 1990’s, the movies had to come first, regeneration was the key, and anything not deemed pretty was bulldozed out of sight…

I do remember walking through the Bullring in the 1990’s, frequently visiting London as I came off at Waterloo as a kid. Buying my first Big Issue’s, and not getting why people could not be housed in some free accommodation. After all, the UK is a rich country, right. Fast forward a couple of decades later, and that naive young boy is a slightly less innocent adult. The multitude of society’s problems easily manifest themselves in those that cannot cope. And today, the streets of London are still not paved in gold, but with the tatty sleeping bags of those without a roof over their heads.

But, I think I am meant to be talking about the cinema, right? That big thing on the roundabout, correct?

While the IMAX shows its fair amount of blockbuster films, you can occasionally see the odd piece of artsy-fartsyness creeping through. But, I did see one hell of a blockbuster there.

Unfortunately, time (and money) meant that I could not see the Indiana Jones special this week at the IMAX. However, the Archaeologist in me could not resist a little kinky pose with one of my favourite movie characters, currently located by the pop corn counters of the IMAX.

Getting there and away: Waterloo station is just a couple of minutes walk away. It does not get any easier than that!

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Flirting with the Polish Border at Frankfurt am Oder

Last month I was in Poland for the 8th edition of the Quest Europe film festival. Due to its location in Western Poland, Zielona Gora can be a bit of a pain to get to from its nearest Polish cities, but is surprisingly easy to get to from from Berlin across the border in Germany.

This is normally the way I go. Land in Berlin, take the train to the Polish/Germany border, walk across the border then head on a coach to Zielona Gora from the Poland side.

And of course, this being me, I have an illicit fascination with borders. And this point of the German/Polish border is one of the more fascinating parts of Central Europe, as well as one of the prettiest. Well, at least on the German side.

Germany has two Frankfurts. The first one is in Hesse in the west of Germany. Seat of the Euro, centre of the financial power of Europe’s largest economy. Big, brash and flash. The second Frankfurt is right on Germany’s eastern border in the impoverished state of Brandenburg. Frankfurt am Oder is small, shrinking and while rather pretty does not really have much to it. However, it serves as a very useful gateway to Poland, particularly if coming via road or rail. The Autobhan links with the Polish Highway network just outside the city. There are direct trains between Berlin and Warsaw that stop in the town. And, being across the border from the Polish town of SLubice, it is very easy just to take a walk over the Odra river, which also acts as the border in this case.


(Frankfurt Oder from the Polish (Slubice) side of the border)

Before the second world war, Frankfurt Oder covered both sides of the river. But after the border changes of 1945, the eastern portion of Frankfurt Oder became the Polish town of Slubice.

Slubice is, well, interesting. It is an ugly town, but it is very vibrant. People are utilising the border everyday, Germans are coming over all the time for cheaper goods, the Polish (and even some Germans) are crossing the border to work and study. And Slubice is definitely on the up. As soon as you arrive in Poland there are money changing shops, neon lights, bars and restaurants telling you to come over here. It may be the smaller of the two towns, but Slubice definitely has a sense of excitement about its border status, even if there are no longer checkpoints between the two countries.

However, on entering Frankfurt, you do not feel like you are on some border with another country. In fact, it seems like Frankfurt Oder itself decides to purposely ignore Poland as some rather embarrassing friend. If you did not know any better, this would just seem like any other impoverished Eastern German town with a shrinking population and not much else to do in town. It is quiet. And with 60,000 residents, Frankfurt Oder is small. But Frankfurt Oder is surprisingly pretty. Many parts of the town, particularly the area towards the river has been beautifully restored and like everything in Germany, Frankfurt Oder is shockingly clean.

Now while I would not make a beeline for Frankfurt Oder, it is worth spending a few hours here while waiting for a train or vice versa. It is a rather nice place to stop for a cup of coffee and because the town has been so beautifully restored, there are a lot of very nice places to wander through. And if you are in the town centre, there are a few hawker booths that serve cheap fare such as kebabs, pizza or…frankfurters…hehe…

As I said previously, there really is not much to warrant a special trip here. But for those looking for a cheap (and relatively easy) way to and from western Poland, going via Frankfurt Oder and crossing over to Slubice is a pretty good way to do so. If you have the time, the walk is not far. In about one hour you could probably walk through Frankfurt and Slubice and see everything that needs to be seen, or if you take it leisurely, it can be done in three or so hours, including a stop off for a coffee. Really, the two towns are quite small. I have regularly crossed between Germany and Poland this way and will be doing so later this year when I go back to film Great Brytania. And while I have seen all there is to see, I always like venturing back and forth to check out any details I might have missed.

Frankfurt Oder, getting there and away: Trains leave twice an hour from Berlin and take around an hour, costing €9.40. You can also hop on the Berlin/Warsaw express which call at the station. The rail station is around 15 minutes walk from the riverside/centre of town.

Poland/Germany Border: The Friendship Bridge links Frankfurt Oder with Slubice on the Polish side. It basically goes from town centre to town centre, and as there are no border controls, you can walk over it as many times as you like!

Slubice, getting there and away: The rail links to Slubice are terrible, and the only way is by coach. All the major places in Lubuskie are linked by coach including Zielona Gora and Gorzow. If you need to take the train, the town of Rzepin is a few miles away, reachable by taxi, and there are regular rail links all over Poland from here.

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Kid Icarus Uprising – a review (and yes, this is my new favourite game of all time)

Oh my gosh…

Is this the world’s greatest game? Ever? Could this be my new favourite game of all time? Ever? Am I over the top? Probably…

As you can read, I am very excited by this wonderful game. Words cannot describe the utter joy I get from playing Kid Icarus every time I switch on my 3DS. And the stats do not lie, Kid Icarus is the most played game on my 3DS, beating Ocarina of Time into second place. And I loved Ocarina of Time, but there is a new kid on the block vying for my affections and Pit is back in the Game!

A brief history I think is needed before we get into the meat of the game. Kid Icarus is a fairly old game, but damn obscure. At 25 years old, it has the same venerability as Zelda or Mario and is older than Kirby. But unlike any of these famed franchises, Pit’s fight with the underworld never caught on and after his first outing on the NES, there was only one sequel released for the Gameboy in 1991/2. And that was it. Until…Super Smash Brawl when a new character made an appearance. A refined, cool looking angel. A glorious reappearance of an obscure, forgotten character.

And then came the announcement in 2010. A new game for Nintendo’s new handheld system…

Kid Icarus Uprising!

Now, for once, this will read like a regular review. The graphics for Kid Icarus are gorgeous and the sound is simply amazing. The big bugbear is with the control system, which really requires a use of a third arm. Use the circle pad to control Pit, the ‘L’ shoulder button to fire and the stylus on the touch screen to aim the reticle. But persevere. Look, I am a left hander, and I just ignored the stylus and used my right thumb and happily got used to playing Kid Icarus that way. I just fiddled with the intensity settings of the touch screens to adapt.

So, do not be put off by the control scheme. All it requires is a bit of perseverence. Yes, it is a design flaw of the 3DS not to have two circle pads, but that is no reason to ignore what is the system’s finest game.

And Kid Icarus Uprising is huge! 25 levels, lots of secrets to find and unlock, two different online modes, both of which are highly addictive and an all encompassing story supported by some of the finest voice acting to be found ob a video game. You will laugh your head off a the witty banter, the frequent breaking of the fourth wall and the sheer fun that the script writers had with this title. Being a complete reboot of the franchise, there was no millstone of continuity hanging round the neck of the creators.

Even the marketing was perfect. The trailers found online point to the game, and are a brilliant showcase of Kid Icarus Uprising. And unlike many trailers, they only hint at the true extent of the game. Make no mistake, this is a huge game, and I am not going to spoil it by telling you what really happens during the game. Although I completed it over the weekend, I am still replaying the levels. With different weapons, on different intensities. In fact, why am I blogging about Kid Icarus, when I have some Quality Time to spend with my new favourite title. Go away now while I now play!

There is no finer game for the 3DS and this easily earns an A+! Once you get over the control scheme (it takes three or four chapters to get into) there is no stopping the player. Persevere, whether left or right handed and you will uncover one of the greatest gems ever created by the video gaming world. I am shocked this was not released on a home console, that is how good this game is. It shows Nintendo’s commitment to try and make their 3DS a success (thank goodness for early buyers like me) and I am looking forward to a sequel, however unlikely that may be for now.

Pit’s got some new tricks, now go play! Just look at that trailer. Great visuals and that music is really from the game, gorgeous!

(Rating A+ – it does not get better than this!)

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